In April, I sent out a call for help regarding microscope purchases
for a new lab and got great responses. I've attached several that
Three suggestions: (1) demo everything, (2) be comfortable with your
sales rep (you're practically married!), and (3) price is negotiable.
I decided on Zeiss everything and got a significant discount in the
process...For my purposes, Zeiss and Nikon cost was not significantly
different. Axioplan 2I mot, Axiovert with Narishegie manipulators
with Andy Papp/Tritech microinjector (this saved almost $5K over the
eppendorf and gave me the freedom to go with...), SV6
stereomicroscopes with diagnostic instruments fiber optic base (this
a great base), and an SV11 with a Kramer attachment for GFP.
Other items: Wheaton Unispense plate pourer and OpenLab Software
(Mac) for digital camera (which still remains to be decided upon)
Stereomicrosope demos, my opinion: Nikon SMZ645 stereomicroscope has
nice optics, low price, but a horrible light base. If you have over
10K to drop on a scope, Nikon has a beautiful high res, high zoom
(>100X) scope...SMZ1500. Leica MZ7.5 optics were a tad better than
Zeiss SV6 (which was better than Nikon SMZ645) but for our purposes,
not worth the price difference. In contrast, we did pay a little
more for the SV6 because it's optics were better than Stemi 2000 (too
three-dimensional). I didn't look at Olympus.
Hope this is helpful. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
In regards to the main equipment
I've got / want, here's a list:
Dissecting scope - Nikon SMZ-645 stereo microscope (vendor = Image Systems;
catalogue # = 83301, 83330, 83311, 79059, 83313, 83314; price =$2164.)
Injection set up - Ependorf. [I'll have an old Olympus microscope without
DIC optics to inject with. I don't know if this will do the job yet. Any
words of wisdom you have would be appreciated].
Micropipette pullers - haven't bought one yet.
Plate Pourers - Wheaton Unispense uP Dispenser (vendor=VWR, catalogue #
25485-004; price approx 1500) [This is what Mike Krause suggested - I've
tested it and thought it a great buy.]
Main microscope - I've used Nikon's and Zeiss' over the past few years. On
the whole, I agree with you - indeed, I'm getting a Zeiss Axioplan. I would
have thought that many vendors will allow you to road test several
microscopes before you decide. If at all possible, I would avoid trying to
save money by doubling up your injection scope into your main
I am in the same process. I grew up with Zeiss also but I am switching for
Nikon, they are so much cheaper and the optics is of very high quality. I
am planning to buy a E1000 equipped with fluorescence and a CCD camera from
Diagnostic Instrument (Spot RT slider), inverted microscope (T-300) with
fluorescence and microinjection set-up from Eppendorf (InjectMan and
FemtoJet, it will be used for cells as well), and two stereoscopes: SMZ-1500
with fluorescence and a plain SMZ-800. I am buying the P-87 pipet puller
from Sutter but the P-30 would do the job for the worm.
Here in Canada based on my experience Zeiss is expensive and service is
so-so. Nikon are excellent, good microscope and service, Leica is the worst
for service and very expensive steroscope. I didn't look for Olympus.
E. Jane Albert Hubbard
I had a very nice Wild in Iva's lab and was totally spoiled. So when
thinking about dissection scopes, did side-by-side comparisons with
several different dissecting scopes and found that it was very
informative. I ended up going with Zeiss SV6 - somewhat more expensive,
but well worth it for us. The base/lighting for the scope has a lot to do
with what you can see too - so don't forget to take that into account. A
lot varies depending on what YOU are looking at - we wanted to be able to
see as much interior worm detail as possible. The Stemmi2000 has an
inferior optical system that drove me nuts after about 15 minutes of
worm-picking (had to keep adjusting the focus). It didn't bother other
people that much. You may also want to consider the actual size of the
foot-print of the base - for us, as you know here in NY, space is often an
issue. Probably not for you!
As for the big 'scopes, a comparison is also really important. Some people
swear by Nikon and don't know why anyone spends the money on Zeiss, but it
really depends on what you need to see. I went with Zeiss. For us, nothing
beats the 63X plan-apo for Nomarski (I do my sreening under Nomarski).
Again, if you can do a comparison looking at the very things that YOU want
most to see, you may not need the most expensive thing. Do also consider
the effect of visual/mental fatigue - a very slightly poorer quality image
will add up to a lot of fatigue over time. I also love the ergonomics of
our axioplan2 with an X-Y control for the stage that hangs down low enough
that I can rest my arm on the bench and prevent shoulder fatigue. We got
some of the features motorized, so we can switch from fluorecence (and
change channels) to Nomarski without looking up and without changing arm
position radically - also the z axis is motorized for taking optical
sections. Something to consider.
In general, when it comes to microscopes, I would also recommend taking
into consideration the technical and sales support you will have. Ask
around. I was lucky here to have the rep from Columbia help set me up
here. Now that everything is from one company, they tend to take good care
Other things: Dave Fitch has a nice injection set-up that I think he got
from Andy Papp - very simple Narishige micromanipulator on an
axiovert. The needle puller is a Campden Instruments model 753 - also good
Our plate pourer is simple and the undergrads have no problems with it -
it is a Wheaton Unispense.
Creg Burns Darby
I would strongly advise against Zeiss Stemi 2000 microscopes: the
image just isn't sharp enough. Now I'm using a Nikon SMZ-U and very
pleased with it: It's very sharp.
I got Zeiss for all microscopes, and the Narishige micromanipulator
with joystick, and the Eppendorf air pressure system (ie not with big
bottles), and for laser the Micropoint Ablation SystemFor the
dissecting scopes, I have a mixture of Leica MS5 and MZ8 with
different bases, and Nikon SMZ-2B; I really like the Nikons (the
optics, the regulation of contrasts and zoom), and they are less
expensive (I believe they have a new model now).
Maureen M. Barr
University of Wisconsin-Madison
School of Pharmacy
425 North Charter St.
Madison, WI 53706
Office: 5256 Chamberlin Hall